Tag Archives: occupational health

Use of Plant on Construction Sites – New HSE guidance on Overturning

There have been more instances of tele-handlers and dumpers overturning on construction sites with often tragic consequences. These days we have trained operators and good site traffic management on most sites we see but in spite of this we are still seeing too many overturns.

This gave use cause to think and discuss this in the office and we have the following thoughts for you to consider which will be helpful when seeking to manage these risks;

  1. Are roll bars always in the upright position – staff sometimes do not put them into place following delivery;
  2. Seat belts are still not being worn and warning systems are being defeated as operators are still under the impression that they could somehow ‘jump free’ of the vehicle if it should overturn  this just isn’t the case;
  3. Training often does not teach good practice for using this machinery (in particular dumpers) on slopes, this is essential and should make up a toolbox talk and really should be part of any operators training – check your training satisfies this area;
  4. Some zones may not be suitable for dumpers and telehandlers – mark exclusions zones for soft ground and steeper slopes;
  5. Tyre pressures are crucial – make sure staff check pressures daily as a small change in pressure (as little as 5 psi) can have an enormous effect on load capacity.  Tyres must be check when cold at the start of each day.

Find out more about the safety of telehandlers here by reading the latest research report from HSE.  General information about plant safety can be found on the HSE website here.

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

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Clients receives huge fine after self employed contractor falls from MEWP

falls from heightYou are most probably aware of the duties you have as a client to select contractors which are competent and adequately resourced for safety.  Sometimes you will also need to convince others within your supply chain or business of the need to complete a thorough assessment and the case below may offer assistance.

In this case a major company had employed a self employed contractor to carry out work installing updated fire detection equipment at its Yate factory site. Due to a failure to plan and supervise the work correctly an overhead conveyor was started which ultimately led to a fall of over 5 metres for from the Mobile Elevating Work Platform (MEWP) which the contractor was using.

Maintenance workers employed by Whirlpool UK Appliances Ltd were unaware that starting the conveyor system would results in this tragedy as they had not been told that this work was taking place.  An HSE investigation found that there were no effective controls or supervision in place to prevent these conflicting work tasks from being undertaken at the same time.

The company pleaded guilty at Bristol Crown Court to breaching section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £700,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,466.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Matt Tyler said:

“This is a tragic case where the incident could have been prevented if the company had planned and controlled the work properly.”

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

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HSE settles judicial review brought by OCS Group before High Court Hearing

HSEAt our recent round of breakfast clubs we discussed the Judicial Review being brought by OCS Group after the FFI fine imposed upon it by HSE linked to its operations at Heathrow Airport.

Key to the review was the HSE being able to act as a ‘judge in its own cause’ – something which was, unsurprisingly, at odds with others areas of review and something of a legal issue.

To complicate matters further, HSE is now headed by Mr Martin Temple, the same person who undertook an independent review of FFI when at the EEF and within that review called FFI a ‘dangerous model’.

Given the above and the arbitrary process of appeal it won’t come as too much of a surprise to see that HSE has chosen to settle the case early and also to withdraw the FFI imposed on OCS plus pay its costs.

Changes will be in place by 1st September 2017

Changes are now afoot to make the process of appeals completely independent of HSE by 1st September 2017.  More than this a consultation exercise should ensure that all stakeholders will now have the opportunity to voice their opinions on how that new process might operate.

Watch this space for more news.

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

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Occupational Health: Alveolitis in Metal Working

Health is becoming the central thrust of any HSE visit and with good reason, health causes a huge impact on individuals and a massive strain on our NHS. However, not all safety professionals are aware of these risks well enough to control them and that’s where expert, external, independent advice can be invaluable.

Alveolitis is a condition of the lung caused by the inhalation of the mist created by metal working fluid when machining – particularly at higher speeds.

The Hazards of Metal Working Fluids (MWF)

Exposure to MWF can be hazardous in several ways but dermatitis from skin contact and lung problems from inhalation are the two major issues.  Biocides are often introduced into MWF’s to stop bacterial growth and this gives the clue about what can happen to the lungs when a fine mist is inhaled by workers.

Over a period of time workers may develop a number of ill health conditions including;

  • bronchitis;
  • irritation of the upper respiratory tract;
  • occupational asthma;
  • or, most seriously, extrinsic allergic alveolitis (EEA).

If you use MWF then seek to control exposure by minimising the volume and rate of delivery at the cutting point or seek to capture mist or enclose it within CNC machines.  If you use a small bright torch with a focusing beam you may be able to seek where and how mist is rising from the process – we issue these torches for free to our clients so if you need one please ask – we’ve helped many businesses with this simple tool.

Consider also your current health surveillance provision – if you need any help and support we can provide skilled practitioners to help you put a robust health surveillance plan in place – just call us on 01453 800100 for more detail and read here for a case study involving a major aerospace company which was recently fined £800,000

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

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Major aerospace company receives £800,000 fine for occupational ill health

Martin Baker Aircraft Company has been fined £800,000 after three of its workers developed Extrinsic Allergic Alveolitis (EEA).

EEA is often caused when workers inhale contaminated metal working fluids as a mist when high speed machining is taking place, these fluids can provide a home for bacteria and other organisms to breed and lead to serious and ongoing illness.

Extrinsic Allergic Alveolitis

EEA is a condition which causes the small air scacs within the lungs (alveoli) to become inflamed in an allergic reaction. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath and joint pain.

The three workers suffering from the condition had been exposed to MWF mist for three years and were among a group of 60 staff which the HSE found to have been put at risk. One of the workers was said to have become virtually paralysed by the illness and the two others have become restricted in the types of work they can undertake in future as they must now avoid contact with the substance.

HSE investigation leads to massive fine

The HSE investigated and found that Martin Baker Aircraft Company (MBAC) had not done enough to reduce the risk with no system of cleaning away the excess fluid and a lack of extraction to prevent the build-up of MWF mist. In addition, they found that there was also a lack of health surveillance (required under Regulation 11 of COSHH.

In court MBAC pleaded guilty to breaching s.2 (1)Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Reg 6(1) Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 . It was fined £800,000 with £36,912 in costs – one of the highest ever penalties for occupational health offences.

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

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Precast Concrete: ‘Barring’ of floor units causes major injuries and £33k fine

The use of pinch or crowbars to move components is a common practice in precast concrete erection.  Components should be positioned as close as possible to minimise the need for it but there is often a need for some adjustment whether to ensure that the component reaches the right position or to tighten up a floor after laying.

If you have any questions on barring we would recommend you read the Precast flooring Federations Code of Practice for the Safety Installation of Precast Concrete Floors and Associated Components available here.

The incident to which the title refers occurred in December 2014 when Walter Thompson (Contractors) Limited, a construction company from Northallerton, was engaged as Principal Contractor for a 47 bedroom extension of the Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham.

£33,000 fine under CDM Regulations

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that the company had failed to adequately plan and manage the installation of the two-floor slabs.

The defendants pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined £33,000 with £12,552.81 costs.

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

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HSE to Issue Construction Sector Plan for 2017 – 2022: emphasis on CDM 2015 compliance

HSEThe Board of HSE met in December to discuss draft sectors plans for construction for the coming 3-5 year period, the summary of the points for consideration are listed below with the emphasis being placed on Health, Smaller Business and CDM 2015;

HSE Priorities

  1. Health Hazards – reducing incidents of ill-health, with a particular focus on occupational lung disease and musculoskeletal disorders;
  2. Small Businesses – supporting small businesses to achieve improved risk management and control; and
  3. CDM Regulations 2015 – embedding the principles of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM).

HSE will secure effective management and control of risk by:

  • Project Regulation – directing inspection and enforcement at those failing to manage and control risks, focusing on health risks refurbishment, and licenced asbestos removal;
  • Central interventions – visiting dutyholders to review their health risk management arrangements using leading indicators in the Construction Health Risks Toolkit; and
  • CDM 2015 Pre-Construction Phase – intervening with construction clients, principal designers and designers to ensure proportionate CDM understanding and compliance, working with or through other health and safety regulators (eg ONR) where necessary.

HSE will lead and engage with others to improve workplace health and safety by:

  • Health Ownership – working with the Health in Construction Leadership Group in promoting the ownership by industry of good health risk management, and the development of case studies and health-specific leading indicators;
  • Awareness Research – funding communication insight research enabling improved risk awareness, management and mitigation in small and micro businesses;
  • CDM 2015  for SMEs – helping small businesses to comply proportionately with CDM, eg case studies on social media;
  • Designer Risk Mitigation – working with professional bodies to enhance the competence of designers through the effective teaching of design risk mitigation across built environment higher education courses;
  • BIM Promotion – demonstrating the effective use of building information modelling (BIM) to improve risk information sharing, coordination and collaboration throughout the construction process; and
  • Manual Handling – working with supply chains to reduce risks from manual handling.

HSE will reduce the likelihood of low-frequency, high-impact catastrophic incidents by:

  • Major Projects – early and strategic interventions with major projects, including Crossrail, HS2, Thames Tideway, power generation decommissioning and new build; and
  • Risk Leadership – working with industry to develop clear standards of construction risk leadership and leading performance.

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

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Please complete the form below and we promise to respond within 24 hrs. If you need more urgent help just call 01453 800109 and ask for Andrea.

Polishing on lathes still causing injuries at work, £400k fine

When you start out in health and safety you usually end up on a 10 day NEBOSH Certificate and this is often taught in a college.  You all file down to an old engineering workshop and are told about holding emery cloth on lathes and the terrible injuries it can cause.

However, you suspect that when you get into industry proper you won’t see such an obvious breach of the Regs and good common sense… how wrong you were.

These accidents are as old as lathes themselves but we’re still seeing the awful injuries which result from them, read on to find out more and perhaps make this the subject of a toolbox talk or take a quick walk down to engineering and just do a double check for used pieces of emery cloth…

Cammell Laird Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders Ltd has been fined £400,000 after a workman suffered serious injuries whilst carrying out repair work on a lathe.

The 59 year old worker from Ellesmere Port suffered fractures and crush injuries to his right hand and was off work for 5 months after carrying out repair work to a lathe the 20th July 2015.

Liverpool Magistrates Court heard  on 5 December that while he was repairing the lathe  he noticed that the shafts and couplings were dirty decided to clean these parts by wrapping an emery cloth around the lead screw with the lathe under power.   This resulted in the rotating machine parts pulling him to the moving parts of the machine.

The company pleaded guilty to a breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £400,000 And ordered to pay costs of £7,683.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Karen Fearon said:

“The Defendant had developed a Health and Safety Management System (HSMS) but failed to ensure that the system had permeated all parts of the organisation. If the HSMS had been followed this accident may not have occurred.

Maintenance was being carried out on machinery which was energised whilst someone was in the dangerous part of that machine. There was no lock off, poor control and poor management. Prior to maintenance the equipment was not shutdown, isolated and residual energy released and secured with a means to prevent inadvertent reconnection (e.g. by locking off with a padlock) as it should have been.”

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

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English as a foreign language

Firstly, a Happy New Year to all our clients, friends and contacts.  Sitting over the Christmas period gives you time to think on a few things and with Brexit still being a point of discussion I was thinking of the foreign workers who continue to provide a huge amount of resource in our country.

From our health service to construction and agriculture there exists a diverse community or workers to whom we owe a duty of care.  Some of these staff can read and write English as well as us native speakers but many struggle with the finer points of understanding.  This presents a problem for us safety professionals in terms of communication.

To help us to gain perspective on this I found the list of peculiarities of the English language below, have a read through and you will start to appreciate the challenges faced by colleagues who are don’t have English as their first language.  If you can share this with your managers and supervisors it might help make us all more aware and, with that, more understanding and willing to help.

Happy New Year.

  1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
  2. The farm was used to produce produce.
  3. The dump was so full it had to refuse more refuse.
  4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
  5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  7. Since there was no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  10. I did not object to the object.
  11. There was a row among the oarsmen on how to row.
  12. They were too close to the door to close it.
  13. The buck does funny things when does are present.
  14. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  15. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
  16. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  17. After a number of injections my jaw got number.
  18. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  19. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

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HSE more than trebles the number of Directors prosecuted for safety offences

Research by law firm Clyde & Co. has shown that the number of HSEcompany directors and managers prosecuted by HSE in the year to 31 March 2016 more than trebled from 15 to 46 persons.  In the same period the number of employees prosecuted has fallen from 10 persons to just 1.

According to the research of these 46 prosecutions 34 were found guilty and 12 were given prison sentences, the longest of which was 2 years.

We can only reach one conclusion from the data above and it confirms what we have seen from assisting the thousands of clients across the UK in both construction and industry, and that is that HSE are pursuing clients with a zeal not seen in the past 20 years.

A second conclusion seems to be that prosecutions against employees are becoming less likely, and perhaps less attractive to the enforcer.  Prosecutions against corporate bodies and directors bring with them valuable income from FFI at a time when the regulator is facing budget cuts. Its seems unlikely that the situation will change in the near future and change which could see all businesses covered by HSE from next year to increase the number of fines and prosecutions still further (see our post on this here).

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

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Please complete the form below and we promise to respond within 24 hrs. If you need more urgent help just call 01453 800109 and ask for Andrea.